If you love running but the idea of endless hours of repetitive tarmac seem unappealing and boring, it’s probably time to give trail running a try. By substituting paved roads for cross-country routes, you’ll enjoy scenes filled with greenery, wildlife, puddles and more. Each day becomes a fun event instead of the same boring scene over and over again. If you’re ready to take on trail running, keep in mind it’s definitely a task more easily accomplished with a pair of trail running shoes on your feet.
Why do you need trail running shoes? Trail shoes have been specifically designed for tackling mud-ridden or rocky trails, which means they provide extra support, more traction and generally have a more rugged appearance compared to road running shoes. Each trail run could require you to navigate mud, rocks, grass and more so you need a pair of shoes fit for that task. Plus, trail running shoes are generally more versatile than road-based options, so if you feel like hitting the tarmac for a day, it’s not a problem.
Stop taking the same, boring run every day. Instead, take a sharp left and head into the great outdoors with a pair of these trail-ready running shoes.
1. KUBUA Mens Trail Running Shoes
BEST FOR BEGINNERS
If you’re just starting out in trail running and looking for your first pair of trail running specific shoes, these KUBUA Mens Trail Running Shoes are a solid entry-level option. The synthetic sole provides plenty of cushioning for your feet while the knit fabric upper ensures your feet are comfortable throughout. Not only is the fabric breathable, it also sits securely around your feet, helping to prevent discomfort or tiredness during long runs. Plus, the ankles sport pull up loops making it easy to slip your shoes on. The versatile soles also allow you to use the shoes outdoors, indoors and on all kinds of surfaces.
2. ASICS Men’s GEL Venture 5 Running Shoes
When it comes to running, there are few companies who can rival ASICS for the title of best running shoe brand. In the ASICS Men’s GEL Venture 5 Running Shoes, you’ll find a versatile running shoe suitable for trail running, which also has over 8,500 five-star reviews from customers happy with their choice of footwear. These shoes come in a range of color options and feature a rubber sole for durability and comfort. You’ll also find gel cushioning inside and a removable sockliner to accommodate users with medical orthotics. The outsole features a trail-specific pattern to maximize traction and ensure confidence on the go.
3. Merrell Men’s Trail Glove 4 Runner
For runners looking for a mix of support, style and comfort, the Merrell Men’s Trail Glove 4 Runner is a great option. The shoes feature an integrated tongue for a secure fit around your feet, while the Vibram TC5 outsole and trail protect pad provide plenty of underfoot protection and grip when you’re out on the trails. These shoes are also available in a complete range of color options, allowing you to match your shoes to the rest of your running attire. Plus, all the materials used in the construction of these shoes are vegan friendly.
4. Altra Footwear Lone Peak 4
BEST FOR FORM IMPROVEMENT
Altra Footwear is quickly becoming one of the most popular trail running brands thanks to their “Zero Drop” footwear. In this type of shoe, the heel is at the same height as the ball of the foot, basically putting the foot in the same position as it would be standing barefoot. Proponents of this type of running shoe claim that zero drop is a more natural position for the foot and therefore gives you better stability and allows you to run faster. If you do choose to try zero drop shoes for your next trail run, the Altra Footwear Lone Peak 4 is a good choice thanks to its sticky rubber outsole and stone guard technology. Just be sure to start small. It will take time to adjust your stride to such a new foot positioning.
5. Adidas Outdoor Terrex Two Parley
A great trail running shoe, the best part about the Adidas Outdoor Terrex Two Parley is that these sneakers are made using Parley Ocean Plastic yarn, which is constructed of recycled waste collected on beaches and in coastal communities. In addition to being very eco-friendly, these shoes are lightweight and flexible to keep you comfortable and steady on trail runs. The sock-like exterior offers a snug fit and the reinforced toe bumper keeps your feet safe against rocks and other abrasive surfaces. Finally, the enhanced EVA midsole provides great shock absorption for comfort on any trail.
6. Salomon Men’s Speedcross 4 Trail Shoes
The Salomon Men’s Speedcross 4 Trail Running Shoes are another behemoth of the trail running world. They are constructed from impressively lightweight and durable materials. They also sport a unique Quicklace system, which makes it easy to slip the shoes on or off in seconds and keeps them secure on your feet during runs. You’ll also find that the Sensifit design helps cradle your feet for an impressively snug yet comfortable fit. Finally, the Contagrip design on the shoes’ soles provide all the traction you need, even in the toughest of conditions.
7. Hoka One One Speedgoat 3
BEST FOR ENDURANCE RUNS
Inspired by endurance runner Karl Meltzer (also known as Speedgoat Karl), the Hoka One One Speedgoat 3 was designed to take on the harsh conditions of the Speedgoat 50k race, often called the toughest trail race in the world. To do so, these shoes include a wider platform that provides a more stable base on a variety of terrains. They also have an oversized EVA midsole for lightweight cushioning and all-day comfort on long runs. Finally, the midfoot cage-like construction of these shoes acts like a seatbelt for your feet, keeping them stable and locked in throughout your time on the trail.
8. On Running Cloudventure Waterproof
BEST FOR COMPETITIONS
Although the On Running Cloudventure Waterproof trail running shoes are the most expensive option on our list, they are also the most technologically advanced. Built for protection from the elements, the shoes boast a waterproof construction and a Megagrip rubber sole with four levels of grip for traction on the trail, even if you’re running in wet conditions. Plus, these shoes are extremely lightweight thanks to the CloudTec outsole structure, which also cushions your foot from forces from all directions. Finally, the included speed-lace system keeps the shoes in place but allows you to quickly take them off or put them on. This feature is particularly ideal for triathlons.